Portsmouth Guildhall

Creating a 21st century vibrant multi-artform cultural venue and social space within a much-loved 19th century building.
The Guildhall Trust
Type: Urban Design & Visioning
Date: 2015-2017

This project’s mission was to reinvigorate a regionally significant heritage building so that is once again becomes an architectural landmark and the home of cultural activities for Portsmouth, as well as acting as a catalyst to bring much-needed vibrancy to Guildhall Square and the Cultural Quarter as part of the town centre masterplan. Bringing all the artforms under one roof to present a place for new work and playful ideas, wide-ranging international programming, multi-arts festivals and commissions.

We produced an ambitious vision for the renaissance of Portsmouth Guildhall as a venue that will provide a year-round engaging, accessible and eclectic programme of national and international music and performance alongside education, conferencing and business facilities, creative studio space and hotel accommodation.

Our approach was to recommended seven distinct interventions that would help fulfil the vision for the Guildhall Renaissance:

1. Participation – a new build extension that provides improved access and entrances, enhanced catering offer and flexibly space for participation and interpretation
2. Access – improving access into and through the ground and first floor spaces
3. Experience – specialist improvements to the concert hall (including acoustics, seating, dressing rooms etc.)
4. Vibrancy – repurposing internal spaces to create satellite venues with flexible uses including exhibition space, studios and conferencing facilities
5. Diversification – repurposing of the 4th and addition of 5th floor for hotel accommodation
6. Education & Enterprise – learning suites and spaces for rehearsal, artist residencies and an expanding skills programme
7. Heritage – conservation of the main building fabric (including Bell Tower and Zodiac Mural).

We commissioned HemingwayDesign to create a visioning document for the refurbishment of Portsmouth Guildhall. They worked with our Client Team including architects and the senior management to produce an excellent document. The Visioning Document is now the main reference point when presenting the design concept to all parties.

Andy Grays, Chief Executive